Ruben Guthrie (Patrick Brammall) has it all. Harbourfront mansion, beautiful fiance, super successful career as an advertising executive – and a bit of a problem with the drink. This becomes apparent when during a raucous house party to celebrate winning an advertising award, Ruben drunkenly launches himself from his roof into his pool, narrowly avoiding death.
It's too much for his fiance Zoya (Abbey Lee). She tells Ruben she's leaving, packing up and returning to her native Prague. If Ruben can give up the grog for a year then she might consider coming back. So Ruben embarks on AA's 12-step program and tries to dry out. He's helped (at first) by his mother (Robyn Nevin), and then not helped by his father (Jack Thompson), his boss (Jeremy Sims), and really, really not helped by his hard-partying friend Damian (Alex Dimitriades). Instead, Ruben embraces AA and seeks help from his fellow recovering addicts.
Ruben Guthrie was written and directed by Sydney actor and writer Brendan Cowell and is based on his play of the same name. The source medium is often apparent – the film includes swags of verbal barrages. Sydney plays a starring role, with harbour vistas, beach scenes and famous landmarks all used to make the film pretty (even Ruben's award-winning advertising campaign is for Vivid).
Patrick Brammall's Ruben almost does enough to be likeable, but you never feel really sorry for him. His parents, colleagues and friends do help with this, and there are moments when you can almost start to agree that Ruben is a victim of his circumstances. But at times, it's a stretch.
The film does seek to examine what is a serious issue, especially in this city and this country. And it hits more than it misses, offering many insights into a culture too often dripping in booze.